2007-01-11 / Upcoming Events

I want to dance! Do you like cha-cha-cha?

By Michaela Kennedy

Kana Kubota and partner demonstrate Latin dancing. She will be teaching three classes in Jamestown this winter. Kana Kubota and partner demonstrate Latin dancing. She will be teaching three classes in Jamestown this winter. Jamestown is stepping into rhythm this winter with three new Latin dance classes that start tonight at the Community Center and run for six weeks.

Kana Kubota, guest dance instructor from New York City, will teach all classes.

In the 1990s, the award-winning Japanese film "Shall We Dance?" sparked an international craze for social dancing. The trend has continued to snowball with help from other popular dance movies, including an American version, starring Richard Gere, of the Japanese film and "Mad Hot Ballroom." Television shows such as "Dancing with the Stars," another American knockoff of an international hit "Strictly Come Dancing," have been feeding a growing hunger for style, grace, and exercise. "I would say popularity of dancing is just sweeping the country and the world," Kubota says.

Kubota is from Japan. She travels from her home in New York City to heat up winter nights on Conanicut Island. She taught a Latin and tango dancing workshop here in 2005, and leaped at the chance to return. "Keith Anderson, program coordinator at the recreation center, contacted me. I immediately thought it would be wonderful. Jamestown has been my favorite place to visit," Kubota notes.

Kubota is founder and director of Jonan Music and Dance School in Fukuoka, Japan. With a master's degree in music education from Columbia University, she is a musician who has taught piano and voice as well as dance. She has taught and performed extensively around the country, but recently concentrates her work in New York and along the East Coast. "I have taught music all my life, and started teaching dancing about eight years ago," Kubota says.

She has put no limit on the number of students per class, and is looking forward to a good turnout. Some students choose only one class, while others elect to take all three. "In New York City and Narragansett, many students take lessons three or four hours in a row and many days a week. Some choose to take just a one-hour class to start. I come to Jamestown only once a week. I hope many people will take as many hours of classes as they like," she said, adding that everyone should go "with their own pace and preference."

Kubota enjoys living on the East Coast, where she can share her love of movement in a region where dancing is traditionally embedded in the culture. "Of course, East Coast provides many beautiful dance venues," she adds.

Kubota teaches all levels of dancing, from the absolute beginner to competition. The classes in this session will focus on the basics of each dance and on becoming comfortable on the dance floor. "Many people learn how to dance, and dancing becomes their lifetime hobby, or even passion," she notes, adding, "It is romantic and exciting, and also a very good exercise."

Latin Workout starts the class series from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. No partner is necessary. Kubota starts the lesson with easy moves to fun Latin music. Participants are asked to bring comfortable clothes and shoes that allow for swivels and turns of the merengue, cha-cha, rhumba, and salsa.

The Salsa/Ballroom class follows Latin Workout from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. An introduction to salsa, swing, foxtrot, and waltz, offers wedding preparation for the bride and groom before their first dance. A wedding is not required, though, to have fun learning basic steps, and the skill of leading and following in partner dancing.

Argentinean Tango lessons complete the evening's dance card from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Once considered a shocking dance from the underground nightclubs in South America, the tango traveled to higher status in Europe and then to the United States in the early 20thcentury. "Connection and communication between the partners are very important element in tango dancing," Kubota notes.

For more information, call the recreation department at 423-7260. Registration forms are available at the Community Center or can be downloaded from the recreation and parks page at www.jamestownri. net.

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